With speculation bubbling that Amazon is working on a smartphone, evidence shows that the online retailer purchased Siri competitor Evi for $26 million late last year. Evi, which is currently available from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, was almost kicked out of the App Store for being too similar to Siri. Amazon could be planning to combine Evi with voice recognition technology acquired this past January when the company acquired Ivona. Right now, the app uses Nuance's voice recognition technology and True Knowledge’s search engine
Screenshots from the Android version of Evi
The evidence showing that Amazon has acquired Evi includes paperwork that shows that the directors of UK based Evi Technologies Ltd directors have been replaced by Amazon's legal representative in the U.K. Amazon's Company Secretary in the U.K., Mitre Secretaries Ltd, has the same title at Evi Technologies Ltd. Annual reports for VC firm Octopus Ventures shows that all of the firm's funds have sold their Evi Technologies shares.
So what is the game plan for Amazon? The most obvious thought is that the technology will be used for a new Amazon smartphone. Like the Amazon Kindle Fire, we can expect that there will be no Google apps anywhere on such a device which means Evi could be used as a replacement for Google Now.
I used Evi before Google released Now. While Evi is a very capable app, I'm not sure I would say it's on par with Now. Whether it's on par with Siri, iUsers will have to answer that. Regardless, Amazon could benefit from this service.